A year without bus provision prompts a 30 mile journey on foot along the same route
A councillor tired of waiting for the Welsh Government to plug the bus service gap in his community has decided to walk the 30 mile journey bus route, exactly one year since the last bus service came to an end.
On 11 February 2023, the T19 bus journey travelling from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno Junction came to an end. It has left Gwynedd and Conwy communities without an essential bus service to reach school and colleges, places of work, food shopping and to reach hospital appointments.
“I am extremely annoyed about the situation,” said Councillor Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn, who represents the residents of Bowydd and Rhiw Ward in Blaenau Ffestiniog.
“Why are rural services disadvantaged?”
“Welsh Labour Government and Transport for Wales have left my community without essential provision. This situation would not occur in large towns and cities within Wales. So why are rural areas being put at a disadvantage yet again?”
The service was abolished a year ago because it was not financially viable for the private bus company to continue the service. Welsh Government states that a train service runs along the same route.
“In reality, the train service does not run often enough and there are constant problems with the line due to the effects of the weather. Local people cannot get to their appointments at Ysbyty Llandudno, for example, because of these issues. Pupils cannot get to school, without having to travel very early in the morning and wait outside the school building for the doors to open. The situation is not at all acceptable.”
Councillor Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn will walk the 30 miles from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno Junction on Sunday morning, 11 February, with local people, friends and fellow councillors joining him for sections of the journey. The aim is to mark a full year since the abolition of the service leaving local people deprived of public transport.
“A heavy blow”
He will be joined on parts of the journey in Conwy County by his fellow Plaid Cymru councillors, Liz Roberts who represents the residents of Dolwyddelan and Betws y Coed; and both County Councillors for Llanrwst, Nia Clwyd Owen and Aaron Wynne. The T19 bus service travelled through Dolwyddelan and Llanrwst before reaching its destination at Llandudno Junction.
Councillor Nia Clwyd Owen said: “I welcome Elfed’s campaign and fully support his efforts. The loss of the T19 service is a heavy blow for Conwy Valley users also. Many of my residents depended on the bus to access basic services such as health appointments, banking, visiting the library, shopping as well as employment and education opportunities.
“The trains don’t run regularly enough, and the service is unreliable due to floods and bad weather.
“Like Elfed, I am eager to see the Deputy Minister for Transport and Transport for Wales move this issue forward swiftly and take action. The cost of living crisis continues to affect our residents, with the costs for using trains much higher than the bus service.”
The Councillors have contacted the Deputy Minister for Climate Change, Lee Waters and have raised the issue on the Senedd floor, back in the spring of 2023, thanks to Mabon ap Gwynfor, Senedd Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd. A public meeting was held at the Queens pub in Blaenau Ffestiniog nine months ago and the response of the 50 residents who attended was clear.
Cllr. Elfed Wyn ap Elwyn continued: “Despite sending correspondence asking for updates on a number of occasions during the past few months, Lee Waters has been slow to respond to my request for urgent information about the latest situation. A letter received in recent days does not address the pressing issue of the T19 Blaenau to Llandudno route issues and concerns.
“I hope that by walking the 30 miles on Sunday, 11 February, the Government and politicians holding the purse strings in Cardiff will wake up and be reminded that we continue to fight for local people in this rural location.”
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